J Lipid Atheroscler.  2020 Jan;9(1):110-123. 10.12997/jla.2020.9.1.110.

Quantifications of Lipid Kinetics In Vivo Using Stable Isotope Tracer Methodology

  • 1Department of Molecular Medicine, Lee Gil Ya Cancer and Diabetes Institute, College of Medicine, Gachon University, Incheon, Korea. iykim@gachon.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Geriatrics, Center for Translational Research in Aging & Longevity, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR, USA.


Like other bodily materials, lipids such as plasma triacylglycerol, cholesterols, and free fatty acids are in a dynamic state of constant turnover (i.e., synthesis, breakdown, oxidation, and/or conversion to other compounds) as essential processes for achieving dynamic homeostasis in the body. However, dysregulation of lipid turnover can lead to clinical conditions such as obesity, fatty liver disease, and dyslipidemia. Assessment of "snap-shot" information on lipid metabolism (e.g., tissue contents of lipids, abundance of mRNA and protein and/or signaling molecules) are often used in clinical and research settings, and can help to understand one's health and disease status. However, such "snapshots" do not provide critical information on dynamic nature of lipid metabolism, and therefore may miss "true" origin of the dysregulation implicated in related diseases. In this regard, stable isotope tracer methodology can provide the in vivo kinetic information of lipid metabolism. Combining with "static" information, knowledge of lipid kinetics can enable the acquisition of in depth understanding of lipid metabolism in relation to various health and disease status. This in turn facilitates the development of effective therapeutic approaches (e.g., exercise, nutrition, and/or drugs). In this review we will discuss 1) the importance of obtaining kinetic information for a better understanding of lipid metabolism, 2) basic principles of stable isotope tracer methodologies that enable exploration of "lipid kinetics" in vivo, and 3) quantification of some aspects of lipid kinetics in vivo with numerical examples.


Lipid metabolism; Substrate turnover, Dyslipidemia; Mass spectrometry

MeSH Terms

Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
Fatty Liver
Lipid Metabolism
Mass Spectrometry
RNA, Messenger
Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
RNA, Messenger
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